A recent study has revealed the extent to which obesity and diabetes in pregnant women affect the future health of their son or daughter.
This research revealed that the sons and daughters of the women under study who suffered from obesity or diabetes during pregnancy developed certain epigenetic changes that predisposed them to suffer from diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems. Used to do This risk is not only present during childhood and adolescence, but also persists through later stages of life.
The study was carried out by pediatricians from the General Hospital of Valencia, the Network Biomedical Research Center for Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN), the University of Valencia and the INCLIVA Health Research Institute of Valencia, in collaboration with Cancer Epigenetics and Nanomedicine. group (CINN, affiliated with the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)), the University of Oviedo and the Center for Biomedical Research in Rare Diseases Network (CIBERER), all Spanish institutions.
“Pregnancy is a fundamental period in human life that actively influences the development of offspring, and their propensity to manifest cardiometabolic diseases in the future. Disorders such as maternal obesity and gestational diabetes, from childhood to adulthood, affect offspring may affect the health of patients, increasing the risk of co-morbidities that reduce quality and life expectancy”, explains Emper Lürbe, CIBEROBN Principal Investigator in the Group Research for the Prevention of Cardiovascular. Risks in children and adolescents of INCLIVA.
On the other hand, and in the opinion of Mario Fraga, a researcher at CIBERER and one of the coordinators of the study at the University of Oviedo, “Maternal obesity during pregnancy can affect up to 30% of pregnant women, resulting in an impact on health systems. and their public health policies. However, beyond epidemiological evidence, the molecular causes responsible for these negative effects on the health of the offspring are unknown.
The study has made it possible to describe epigenetic changes in the offspring beyond birth, associated with maternal metabolic status during pregnancy. These chemical modifications affect the regulation of genes, and their alteration is behind the development of many diseases with great social impact, such as obesity.
To reach these findings, the team led by Juan José Alba-Linares from the University of Oviedo and CIBERER conducted an analysis in a pediatric cohort of boys and girls born to obese or obese mothers with gestational diabetes. One of the greatest strengths of the study is the longitudinal follow-up, which has been carried out in the first year of life in the Pediatric Service of the General Hospital of Valencia, and which has made it possible to elucidate the molecular mark by which the mothers continue their pregnancy over time. able to influence the genome of the offspring.
The research team states that this study represents a new example of how the environment interacts with our genes. In this case, the results suggest that the health status and metabolic status of the pregnant mother may persistently affect the health status of the children, which may have important implications for public health issues.
This work constitutes the first evidence that the intrauterine environment and more specifically, obesity and gestational diabetes, are capable of persistently reproducing the methylation patterns of the offspring beyond birth.
The alterations include genes that are part of regulatory pathways for fatty acid metabolism, cardiac signaling or mitochondrial bioenergetics, important processes in obesity and diabetes mellitus. The detection of these changes in peripheral blood reinforces the idea that maternal metabolism has systemic effects on child development.
The title of the study is “Epigenetic signatures in maternal obesity and gestational diabetes reprogram the methylome of offspring at birth through metabolic and developmental pathways”. And it has been published in the academic journal Cardiovascular Diabetology.